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May 04, 2020

King, Colleagues Introduce Legislation to Streamline Medical Supply Production Chain for Increased Manufacturing of Life-Saving Supplies

BRUNSWICK, ME – U.S. Senator Angus King (I-Maine) has cosponsored legislation that outlines a specific, responsive framework for a coronavirus response by federalizing the supply chain for critical medical supplies and equipment, that includes oversight procedures to maintain integrity.  The Medical Supply Transparency and Delivery Act requires the president to utilize all available authorities under the Defense Production Act to mobilize a federal response to the pandemic through an equitable and transparent process. The legislation is supported by AFL-CIO, SEIU, the National Nurses United, and United Steelworkers.

“We’re in the midst of the public health fight of a generation, and it’s crucial that those on the frontlines – health care providers, direct care workers, first responders, and essential employees – have all the tools they need to protect themselves while keeping us all safe and healthy,” said Senator King. “Only the federal government has the authorities and the logistical capabilities to bring together – but to date, the executive branch has not fully marshalled its powers, leaving states to fight amongst themselves for life-saving PPE and testing materials. There is a better path forward, lit by federal leadership in strong coordination with the states; let us take that path today, so we may reach the end of this challenge as soon as possible.”

Senator King has repeatedly pushed for strong federal leadership to address the coronavirus pandemic. He has previously cosponsored legislation that would direct the Administration to invoke the DPA federalize the manufacturing and distribution of scarce in-demand medical supplies, and has worked with the rest of the Maine Delegation to repeatedly push for additional PPE to protect the Maine people working on the frontlines of the coronavirus response. Last month, he urged Vice President Mike Pence to conduct a national inventory of the coronavirus diagnostic testing supply and to provide a detailed plan and timeline for addressing future shortages and gaps in the testing supply chain. Additionally, he raised concerns about the administration’s reliance on private companies to distribute desperately needed medical supplies during the coronavirus pandemic.

Specifically, the Medical Supply Transparency and Delivery Act would:

·       Require publicly reported national assessments on a weekly basis to determine national critical equipment supply and requirements.

o   These reports will also identify industry sectors and manufacturers most ready to fill orders, stockpiles that can be refurbished or repaired, manufacturers that could expand production into PPE and medical supplies, and supplies and equipment that can be redistributed to new hotspots. 

·       These reports would also include direct outreach with essential employees and health care workers.

·       Establish an Executive Officer to oversee acquisition and logistics for COVID-19 equipment production and delivery.

o   The Executive Officer will have all the authorities available under the DPA.

o   The Executive Officer is required to issue major purchase orders under DPA for supplies identified in the assessments, oversee all distribution of critical medical supplies, and make recommendations to the President on increasing national production capacity of supplies.

o   The Executive Officer will be a civilian position appointed by the Secretary of the Defense and will be authorized additional uniformed and DOD civilian personnel in supporting roles.

o   The Executive Officer will ensure that all unused supplies in excess of need will be turned over to the Strategic National Stockpile.

o   The Executive Officer will terminate after confirming to Congress that all State and territorial medical supply needs have been met and national stockpiles have been replenished.

·       Increase transparency regarding the distribution of supplies and equipment.

o   The Executive Officer is required to publicly post all states’ requests for assistance, metrics and criteria for amount and destination of distribution, metrics for determining hotspots and areas of future concern, and production and procurement benchmarks.

·       Require a comprehensive plan for COVID–19 testing, including viral and antibody testing.

·       Establish a comprehensive plan to address necessary supply chain issues in order to rapidly scale up production of a COVID-19 vaccine.

·       Require a GAO report to identify lessons learned and make recommendations on future pandemic response.

·       Establish an Inspector General to oversee implementation of the Act.

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